Sunday, August 18, 2013


I'm a couple of days late on this, but Friday would have been the 93rd birthday of the great Charles Bukowski.  Though he definitely isn't for everyone, he's something of a hero to me.  Not a hero as in "a model of how to live well" exactly.  He wasn't known to be a nice man.  But he was known to be an honest man.  And as Bono (God how I hate him) said in the Bukowski documentary "Born Into This": the truth is never ugly to God.

Bukowski was wise in his own unique way.  And he was unafraid.  He told it like he saw it.  And he lived, for better or for worse, according to his own soul.  It's hard to articulate, but he's even been an influence on my Dirty Roots Radio Show.

So, I thought I'd share some of my favorite quotes from him.  These are listed in no particular order.  I've probably forgotten some.  But some of these have saved my life, or at least my soul, more than once.  And that's not hyperbole.  

Good ol' Buk...

The Laughing Heart
"your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you."

"If you have to wait for it to roar out of you, then wait patiently. If it never does roar out of you, do something else."

"Some people never go crazy.  What truly horrible lives they must lead."

"If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is."

"You have to die a few times before you can really live."

"If you’re losing your soul and you know it, then you’ve still got a soul left to lose."

"Some lose all mind and become soul = insane.
Some lose all soul and become mind = intellectual.
Some lose both and become accepted." 

"Great art is horseshit.  Buy tacos."

"I was laying in bed one night and I thought ‘I’ll just quit — to hell with it.’ And another little voice inside me said ‘Don’t quit — save that tiny little ember of spark.’ And never give them that spark because as long as you have that spark, you can start the greatest fire again."

"Find what you love and let it kill you."

"the free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it - basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them."

"unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.”

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